(A) The law enforcement officers of the division of watercraft shall be known as "state watercraft officers." The chief of the division of watercraft and state watercraft officers:
(1) Shall develop and conduct educational programs in vessel safety, sanitation, and operation and in other related subjects that the chief considers appropriate or necessary;
(2) Shall enforce this chapter and Chapter 1548. of the Revised Code and rules adopted under them, and may enforce laws prohibiting the dumping of refuse, trash, or litter into the waters in this state and Chapters 2925. and 3719. of the Revised Code on all waters in the state;
(3) On any lands owned, controlled, maintained, or administered by the department of natural resources and on any waters in this state, shall have the authority specified under section 2935.03 of the Revised Code for peace officers of the department of natural resources to keep the peace, to enforce all laws and rules governing those lands and waters, and to make arrests for violation of those laws and rules, provided that the authority shall be exercised on lands or waters administered by another division of the department only pursuant to an agreement with the chief of that division or to a request for assistance by an enforcement officer of that division in an emergency. The jurisdiction of state watercraft officers shall be concurrent with that of the peace officers of the county, township, or municipal corporation in which the violation occurs.
May serve and execute any citation, summons, warrant, or other process issued with respect to any law that they have the authority to enforce.
(1) Except as authorized by division (B)(2) of this section, no state watercraft officer or other law enforcement officer as described in section 1547.63 of the Revised Code shall stop or board any vessel solely for the purpose of conducting a safety inspection of the vessel unless the owner or operator voluntarily requests the watercraft officer or other law enforcement officer to conduct a safety inspection of the vessel.
(2) A state watercraft officer or other law enforcement officer as described in section 1547.63 of the Revised Code may stop, board, and conduct a safety inspection of any vessel for the purpose of enforcing the laws and rules that the officer has the authority to enforce under this chapter, if either of the following applies:
(a) The watercraft officer or law enforcement officer authorized under section 1547.63 of the Revised Code has a reasonable suspicion that the vessel, the vessel's equipment, or the vessel's operator is in violation of this chapter or rules adopted under it or is otherwise engaged in a violation of a law of this state or a local ordinance, resolution, rule, or regulation adopted in compliance with the provisions of this chapter within the territorial jurisdiction of the officer;
(b) The watercraft officer or law enforcement officer authorized under section 1547.63 of the Revised Code is conducting a vessel safety inspection in the course of an authorized checkpoint operation in accordance with rules adopted by the chief of the division of watercraft under section 1547.52 of the Revised Code.
(C) A state watercraft officer may render assistance to a state or local law enforcement officer at the request of that officer or may render assistance to a state or local law enforcement officer in the event of an emergency.
State watercraft officers serving outside the division of watercraft under this section or serving under the terms of a mutual aid compact authorized under section 1501.02 of the Revised Code shall be considered as performing services within their regular employment for the purposes of compensation, pension or indemnity fund rights, workers' compensation, and other rights or benefits to which they may be entitled as incidents of their regular employment.
State watercraft officers serving outside the division of watercraft under this section or under a mutual aid compact retain personal immunity from civil liability as specified in section 9.86 of the Revised Code and shall not be considered an employee of a political subdivision for purposes of Chapter 2744. of the Revised Code. A political subdivision that uses state watercraft officers under this section or under the terms of a mutual aid compact authorized under section 1501.02 of the Revised Code is not subject to civil liability under Chapter 2744. of the Revised Code as the result of any action or omission of any state watercraft officer acting under this section or under a mutual aid compact.
Amended by 130th General Assembly File No. 26, HB 29, §1, eff. 7/10/2013.
Effective Date: 03-18-1999